dis·​in·​gen·​u·​ous | \ ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce disingenuous (audio) , -yü-əs \

Definition of disingenuous

: lacking in candor also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating

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Other Words from disingenuous

disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

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A disingenuous remark might contain some superficial truth, but it is delivered with the intent to deceive or to serve some hidden purpose. Its base word ingenuous (derived from a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn") can describe someone who, like a child, is innocent or lacking guile or craftiness. English speakers began frequently joining the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous during the 17th century.

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. — Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999 … and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. — T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993 … he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. — Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993 Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. — Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990 Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
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Recent Examples on the Web But Dominion argued that this maneuver was disingenuous, at best. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Dominion Voting Systems’ Legal Rampage Against Trump’s Grifters," 24 Feb. 2021 Australia’s rationale is disingenuous even by political standards, exploiting the unpopularity of Google and Facebook as a foil. WSJ, "Google and Facebook on the Barbie," 23 Feb. 2021 For others, the claim that Lipien could be a sufficient replacement for editorial safeguards was simply disingenuous. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "Trump's Damage to a Cold War Icon," 23 Feb. 2021 Fox News’ criticism is especially disingenuous, considering hosts on the network have for many years complained about the Muppets, labeling the characters as anti-capitalist liberal propaganda. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Adding content warnings to the Muppets is the opposite of cancel culture," 22 Feb. 2021 Democrats have accused Sandberg of making false statements and being disingenuous in her denial of Facebook's role in fomenting violence that led to the Capitol attack. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Liberals accuse Facebook of lying about its moderation of 'Stop the Steal' content," 12 Jan. 2021 This strategically disingenuous approach proved effective, not just on Reddit but well beyond it. New York Times, "Everything’s a Joke Until It’s Not," 29 Jan. 2021 But the most disingenuous rationale is the notion that holding Trump accountable would be divisive. Star Tribune, "Democracy doesn't need unity, healing," 19 Jan. 2021 Expecting a violence-inciting narcissist, who tried to go against the will of his own people to overturn his own loss, to smile through prayers and poems and speeches extolling the virtues of democracy on January 20 is just a tad disingenuous. Natalie Gontcharova, refinery29.com, "Trump Officially Refuses To Attend Biden’s Inauguration. Good!," 8 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disingenuous

1655, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655

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Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Disingenuous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disingenuous. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of disingenuous

formal : not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere

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